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Quecia II CD Cover
Image © Deep End Records Ltd 2004

Kirsty McCarrick Image © Deep End Records Ltd 2004

More Quecia
This Is Where We Are
Rotherham October 2002
Rotherham January 2004
 

(16 May 2004) Quecia II (Deep End Records (UK) 501-196-6, 2004) is the title of the latest 10-track offering from Wigan's evolving classic rock band. While many bands would have folded after the upsets of the last couple of years, Quecia are clearly made of sterner stuff, and at last have followed up their promising first album with an excellent second effort that represents a significant step forward for the band. The charming acoustic tones of This Is Where We Are feature have now been largely replaced by a gritty rock sound derived largely from the Classic Rock bands of the 70s and 80s. That said, there are still plenty of gentler moments to satiate fans of the first album, and the excellent song writing has been continued in spectacular fashion.

Though the band would be the first to admit that they have not played live as much as they would have liked, many aspects of their live show have found their way onto the album. Kirsty McCarrick is really developing as a lead vocalist of huge power and presence--with soaring interludes especially in "New Dress," "Too Late To Say Goodbye" and "Line In The Sand"--which she combines with a winning vulnerability and charm.

Her sister Hayley continues her development as a wonderful harmony vocalist and their vocals combine with a unique chemistry. Paul Ayre's lead guitar work in particular, is at times blistering and Chris Picton, as well as providing some solid bass and some surprisingly subtle and confident keyboards, should be congratulated for his engineering. New member Steve Atkinson provides some excellent, unflashy drumming.

Short, snappy opener "Hideaway" teases with a great acoustic guitar riff, giving way to electric quickly enough, and the McCarrick sisters trademark harmony vocals. A lovely vocal midsection is reminiscent of Heart. "You Know the Time" slows things down, with some great piano and organ from Chris, and Paul mixing acoustic and electric guitar to good effect. On the verse, the song sounds like Karnataka, before becoming more soulful in the chorus, and throwing in a lovely key change for the middle eight.

As promised by Paul Ayre in our recent interview, "The Rhythm” is somewhat different, weaving an atmospheric song--again reminiscent of Karnataka--over some eerie sustained guitar and synths, and some great singing from Kirsty as the song builds to a more aggressive climax. "Bird in a Cage" rocks things up again, a joyous piece of 3-minute slice of power pop with a great solo from Paul. "New Dress" is a rock ballad, giving Kirsty and Paul on lead guitar--a chance to really let rip--spine tingling stuff and a great song.

"The Difference" is almost funky, with piano and acoustic guitar prominent. Kirsty is again allowed to shine towards the end of another excellent song. "Too Late To Say Goodbye" again showcases Chris’ excellent keyboards in the verse with some soulful vocals from both girls, before crunching into gear in the chorus, with Kirsty letting go and Paul delivering a great solo--terrible shame the song fades out in the middle of it.

"Rescue Me" is a great 70s style, brooding, bluesy rock song with Paul's guitar again excellent and a winning chorus that Eric Clapton would be proud to have written. It is one of those songs that sound like you've always known it, and it's an album highlight. "Taking to the Trees" is an excellent acoustic song with an ecological theme while album closer "Line in the Sand" opens haltingly, but soon builds intensity into a showcase for Kirsty's voice and Paul's great lead guitar. Here he provides two great solos, the second of which is his best work on the album by far.

Though occasionally the album displays a few rough edges sonically, particularly on the rhythm guitar and drum sounds, the songwriting is consistently excellent. While the band would benefit from outside-the-group production, there is not a weak track on the album and Quecia should take great credit for keeping it to a modest 47 minutes. Here, at last, is a fully rounded vision of where Quecia really are in 2004. Let's hope a lot more people share that vision in the future. Stephen Lambe in Cheltenham and Russ Elliot in New York

 
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